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184                              THE GAY GENIUS

ables. On rainy days Su Tungpo slept late and then took a walk alone
in the late afternoon, .wandering over the rolling foothills of the Eastern
Knoll, and exploring the temples and private gardens and shady
streams. On other days his friends came to visit him, and they went
together on trips to the mountains on both banks of the Yangtse. This
was a hilly woodland district and the country was very picturesque^
On the south bank stood the tall Fanshan Mountain, high above a plain
cut up by large lakes and connecting waterways.

Su Tungpo had had a narrow escape, a soul-shaking experience, to
say the least. He began to consider what was life. In the poem of fare-
well to his brother written in June, he said his life was like a little
ant crawling against a turning millstone, and again, like a feather
carried about by a whirlwind. He began to ponder very deeply his own
character and to consider how he could achieve true peace of mind. He
became religious. In his sketch of the Ankuo Temple he said: "1
arrived in February at my residence in Huangchow. After getting
settled and solving the problems of food and shelter, I shut the door,
put the broomstick behind it, and began to collect my frightened spirits.
I examined myself to see how I could start a new life. It seemed to
me that so far I had always acted on impulse and at variance with true
humanist principles. I do not mean only the things I did which have
brought me into the present trouble. I might try to correct one 'fault,
only to find another and yet another, so that I would not know where
to begin. With a sigh I said to myself: 1 have not been able to control
my impulses by tao [religion], nor overcome my habits by the light
of reason. Without seeking a spiritual renovation at the roots, ar^|
corrections of habits would be temporary. Why don't I devote myself
to the brotherhood of* the Buddha in order to make a clean start?' I
was able to find a quiet, beautiful place in the south of the city called
the Ankuo Temple, with tall trees and bamboos and fish ponds and
pavilions around. Every one or two days I would go there, burn in-
cense, and sit in quiet meditation. There I learned to forget all dis-
tinctions between the self and the non-self, and my mind- was cleared
of incumbrances. I arrived then at a state where it was impossible to
have thoughts of the material world arise in my mind. Once the
human mind reaches that purified stage, sense perceptions fall away^
because there is nothing to which these thoughts can attach themselvdij
It is then that one's external and internal selves become one. I began1
to experience a great happiness. . . ."

Against this religious impulse, a trend of Confucianist teaching,
which lay deep in Su Tungpo's soul, seemed to draw him in another
direction. It was true that one could seek peace in religion, but if
Buddhism was right and life was nothing but illusion, one should let
human society alone entirely, and for that matter the human race